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The Princess and the Goblin (Princess Irene and Curdie #1)

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  21,814 Ratings  ·  1,114 Reviews
Princess Irene's discovery of a secret stair leads to a wonderful revelation. At the same time, Curdie overhears a fiendish plot by the goblins. Princess Irene & Curdie must make sense of their separate knowledge & foil the goblins' schemes.
Paperback, 241 pages
Published March 1st 1997 by Puffin (first published 1872)
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Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineThe Goose Girl by Shannon HaleBeauty by Robin McKinleyThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanFairest by Gail Carson Levine
The Best Fairytales and Retellings
103rd out of 1,913 books — 7,765 voters
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald DahlThe Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Best Children's Fantasy
37th out of 604 books — 1,027 voters

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Community Reviews

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Published in 1872, The Princess and the Goblin is one of the first books in the modern fantasy genre. This book had tremendous and very visible influence on all the (now much more famous) authors that came after it.

It is of course very dated. It does not match the standards that fantasy have created since; in neither scope, story, characterisation or complexity. On the other hand, it is a rather enjoyable little fairytale, and it does have its positive sides.

Mostly, though, this book is not real
Sanjay Gautam
Jan 01, 2016 Sanjay Gautam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No wonder why Tolkien and CS Lewis admired this tale. A very fine and enchanting story.
Jason Koivu
Jun 09, 2015 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
A princess, a miner and a goblin walk into a story...

Feel like you've heard this one before? Maybe the characters are unusual, but the form and general content of The Princess and the Goblin written by George MacDonald in 1872 would go on to become one of the foundation cornerstones for fantasy literature in the following century. Tolkien and Lewis owe MacDonald a good deal. Without those Inklings fantasy just wouldn't be the same today.

As with many progenitors, MacDonald's book feels dated. Aft
Feb 02, 2015 Zoë rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 15/100 for 2015!
Also, a book I read for my Children's Literature class!
I thought this book was good, but definitely not my favorite. I didn't really like MacDonald's writing style, especially when he broke the 4th wall and kept refusing to describe things while also describing them (like "I COULD tell you what this looked like, but I really can't."?????). He sorta got on my nerves. Another thing that I didn't really like was that MacDonald didn't explain everything! Like, for instance, what
Feb 24, 2008 Chloe rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Children and fairytale lovers.
Recommended to Chloe by: A booklist (maybe by Michael D. O'Brien).
When I think of the magic of childhood, certain images come into my head. There’s a sort of sparkle, warmth, and yet there is always danger. However, childhood magic has an incomparable sweetness to it. There are few books that manage to touch on this nigh-indescribable feeling of childhood magic. The Princess and the Goblin is such a book.
The story is a fairytale, in the same order as Jack and the Beanstalk and The Goose Girl. There is a princess, a peasant boy, a castle and, of course, goblins
Sep 06, 2012 Breanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was immediately drawn to this story when I read the first page to this edition which reads:

"THERE was once a little princess who—
"But Mr. Author, why do you always write about princesses?"
"Because every little girl is a princess."
"You will make them vain if you tell them that."
"Not if they understand what I mean."
"Then what do you mean?"
"What do you mean by a princess?"
"The daughter of a king."
"Very well, then every little girl is a princess, and there would be no need to say anything about it
Aug 06, 2016 Selene rated it really liked it
Book Two for the 7in7 ReadAThon
Barnabas Piper
Nov 21, 2014 Barnabas Piper rated it it was amazing
One of the best children's stories ever, and of course by that I mean one of the best stories for anyone.
Lubinka Dimitrova
A nice little story. I can see why many regard it as a well of inspiration for a number of famous fantasy writers that followed after George McDonald in later years.
May 12, 2008 Vanessa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Recommended to Vanessa by: Stefanie
Shelves: book-club-books
This was a really charming children's novel. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. This would be a great book to read aloud as a family. I am excited to read more of George MacDonald's books and learn more about him. Apparently, many writers have been influenced by MacDonald, including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Madeleine L'Engle, and Lewis Carroll. Thank you, Stefanie, for introducing me to such a great author!
The mentor of Lewis Carroll, and revered by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien among others, the severe-looking Scottish author clearly had a knack for creating magical things. Very few authors have said that they don't write for children, "but for the child-like, whether they be of five, or fifty, or seventy-five". The Princess and the Goblin is a fully-fledged children's fantasy novel, however, but also much more than a story of rescuing the princess and the kingdom.

Eight-year-old princess Irene
Cindy Rollins
Feb 16, 2016 Cindy Rollins rated it it was amazing
Shelves: morningtime, 2016
The Lord in his mercy has given me another chance to teach Charlotte Mason style and I am getting to visit so many old friends.

I tried to start with a couple excellent books to whet my student's appetite and delightfully he has responded with joy.

I will always give George MacDonald 4 or 5 stars. I love him- his voice and his goodness.

Julie Davis
Oct 14, 2014 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing
This is a book my mother has long tried to get me to read since it was a childhood favorite of hers. Over the years I have heard it was also a favorite of C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, G.K. Chesterton and (possibly) J.R.R. Tolkien. With all that going for it, you'd think I'd have jumped on the bandwagon long ago.

It took me finding this LibriVox recording from one of my favorite narrators who has lamentably few books recorded, Andy Minter. He is simply superb. I get that delicious feeling of bei
Apr 22, 2008 Nico rated it it was amazing
I read this as a child and loved it! I still think about the book, and look at my sensitive feet in dismay!
Apr 09, 2015 Suzannah rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, classics
First time reading this for years. Just as much fun as I remembered
This book has been on my shelf since I was, I think, eleven. My father bought it for me even though I didn't seem to think I wanted to read it. Fast forward eight years and I can say this truly was a well written book that children will enjoy for it's fantasy and themes of bravery, and will be able to relate to the characters themselves. Removing this from dusty corners of my bookshelf, I will be honest, my interest in reading this only perked up when I learnt that it had served as inspiration f ...more
Just finished reading this with my nine year old daughter. It took us a while to get into the Christian imagery. The imagery itself is just beautiful; there are images of God, prayer and answers to prayer to name a few.

All of the greatest fantasy novels depict the great trials that humans must go through in life. Though there may be magic in the tale, it does not make the going easy. My fairy tale mindedness sometimes wonders why with the zap of a wand all cannot be made well, but deep inside me
Daniel Ionson
Mar 12, 2016 Daniel Ionson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Supreme children's book, and a deep inspiration for JRRT's The Hobbit.
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
29% read - 9 chapters. DNF. Long-winded and dull. Great-great-grandmother, Princess Irene's namesake, was the only vaguely interesting thing about this one.

Downloaded from Project Gutenberg.
Dec 30, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it
The Princess and the Goblin is a fun and fantastical read for children of all ages. Introducing many tropes of modern fantasy while moving along at a quick pace.

It has some violence and battles, though it is minimal and confrontations are often resolved with alternative methods, and is hardly explicit even when their is fighting. The story is exciting and fast paced enough to keep a young reader's attention and it has some positive morals for younger readers too. It also has a bit of Christian s
Joy C.
What a beautiful, charming story. I loved it! <3
Oct 17, 2014 Bob rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is the book that G. K. Chesterton said "made a difference to my whole existence." I am not sure that I can say the same but I did find myself impressed once again with George MacDonald's writing and asking why I hadn't read this sooner.

Princess Irene lives on the side of a beautiful mountain that harbors a dark secret in terms of a goblin kingdom, whose rulers are pursuing a nefarious purpose--nothing less than kidnapping the princess. She and her nurse are rescued from one nearly tragic ve
Mary Catelli
A tale of a little princess growing up in a country house/castle -- kept carefully inside for the danger of the goblins who live in the mountains.

On one rainy day, Princess Irene wanders in the house, gets lost, finds a woman spinning in the tower, unbeknownst to anyone inside -- her great-great-grandmother Irene. On the first clear day after that storm, she goes walking with her nurse-- too far -- and can not return before nightfall, when the goblins start to menace them. Fortunately, they meet
Dec 28, 2009 Adam rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
"'People must believe what they can, and those who believe more must not be hard upon those who believe less.'"

"The Princess and the Goblin" is a charmingly simple fairy tale--which is to say, it is superficially uncomplicated but full of imagery and themes ripe for symbolic or metaphorical interpretation. (Some of the language and themes may sound a bit trite to modern ears, but that might say more about modern ears than it does about the language and themes.) George MacDonald's work influenced
Jan 29, 2013 Fordlikethecar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My introduction to George MacDonald. Upon finishing The Princess and the Goblin with my daughter, we went on to read The Princess and Curdie, The Light Princess and The Wise Woman in quick succession. His style is more conversational than Lewis (and often more preachy), more focused and intimate than Tolkien in The Hobbit and LOTR. MacDonald is not bringing us into a world of epic fantasy, but using fantasy as a vehicle to convey his ideas about reality, which are, to me, some of the most refres ...more
Oct 15, 2008 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a children's book, and is a little didactic in the vein of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. What I love about this book is its feeling of wonder. The first time I read about Irene's grandmother, I was scared and inspired at the same time. Both this and the Princess and Curdie are extended allegories about faith and hope. The Princess and Curdie is, for me, stranger and more apocalyptic, and I enjoy it less than The Princess and the Goblin. Check out MacDonald's shorter fairy tales, too (The ...more
Sep 20, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
Wow what an adorable tale.


I watched the movie version of this book obsessively as a child and was totally ignorant that this was originally a book. When I saw this at my local book shop I was elated and instantly bought it. Going into it I was comparing it to the movie and it does differ a bit but the book is super charming. The antiquated language, magic, and evil creatures paints a child's fantasy world come to life. Will definatly recommend to anyone young or old.
I watched the animated movie non-stop when I was little (Rik Mayall and Mrs. Slocombe were the voices of some characters, omg). The source book was nice and the reading by the Librivox volunteer was lovely.
Jun 09, 2015 Dana rated it liked it
This was my first George MacDonald book and was recommended for my ladies classics book club by a few of my girlfriends who love it. I did enjoy it even though I felt like I was reading a children's book. I normally do not read fantasy and found the creativity and imagination of MacDonald to be delightful. His depiction of the cob's animals was one of my favorite parts. I also liked the sweet relationship between Irene and her King-papa and the some of the conversations between Irene and Curdie ...more
Sophie Weeks
Nov 15, 2014 Sophie Weeks rated it really liked it
I loved this book--I can't think how MacDonald has been excluded from the canon of classic children's literature, except by his relatively outlandish theologies. But being friendly to outlandish theologies, I admired how flawlessly and evocatively MacDonald lays out his images of the divine feminine. MacDonald, like the Inklings whom his work later inspired (C.S. Lewis said MacDonald's Phantastes "baptized his imagination"), creates by sheer force of will a space to talk about faith and mysterie ...more
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  • The Little Lame Prince
  • The Reluctant Dragon
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  • Tales of the Kingdom (Tales of the Kingdom, #1)
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  • Undine
  • Seven-Day Magic (Tales of Magic, #7)
George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.

Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, George MacDonald inspired many authors, such as G.K. Chesterton, W. H. Auden, J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Madeleine L'Engle. Lewis that wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I
More about George MacDonald...

Other Books in the Series

Princess Irene and Curdie (2 books)
  • The Princess and Curdie

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“Seeing is not believing - it is only seeing.” 156 likes
“We are all very anxious to be understood, and it is very hard not to be. But there is one thing much more necessary.'
What is that, grandmother?'
To understand other people.'
Yes, grandmother. I must be fair - for if I'm not fair to other people, I'm not worth being understood myself. I see.”
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